Owner of the farm Steve Waters, who crossed one million pound worth of sales this year told TOI that it is incredibly difficult to grow the Naga chili.
“It takes seven months from seed to ripe fruit and is fiercely hot. The demand for the chili in Britain has been rocketing and we have finally managed to grow it in British spoil in large volumes. People don’t have to bank to dried Naga chilies imported from India but can buy them fresh, plucked straight from the plant in the farm. This is the first year we have started selling the fruit and have already become hugely popular. We are also making super fiery sauces from the Naga chili”.
“This variety is very susceptible to wind and rain and aren’t very good in high humidity. We have therefore started harvesting them in a poly tunnel glass house.
Naga harvesting lasts a long season – seeds are sown in February and it ripens end of September. The farm had till now been importing seeds of the Naga from an Indian company called Frontal Agrotech. Each fruit costs 50 pence and is as hot as four packs of normal chilies. The tricky part of harvesting the Naga is the germination.
Waters said “Naga was the first chili in the world top cross the one million SHU mark. It has taken us five years to finally manage a season of reliable crop. We are the first chili farm in Britain producing fresh Nagas for home consumption. Last year, we collected our own seeds and germinated them in house. This also helps us so away with the headache of trying to source them from India as the seeds are difficult to find”.
Waters added “The germination rate of the Naga is very low. We found that soaking them overnight helps in germination. Our scientific studies showed that keeping them in dark areas also helped them grow better”.
Alex Graeme, a local guide heading Unique Devon Tours said the farm has become a major tourist attraction. The Naga chilies are cultivated mainly in the north eastern states of Assam, Nagaland and Manipur. In 2007, the Guinness Book of World Records certified that the Naga was the world’s hottest chili pepper, 401.5 times hotter than Tabasco sauce.